Pros: Great beauty, especially the back nine
Cons: A few whitebread holes
Eastmoreland was designed by H. Chandler Egan and opened in 1918. The front nine wanders out and back, two fairways wide. Cross underneath Bybee Boulevard to the back nine that surrounds the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens and Crystal Springs Lake. It is operated by the City of Portland.
This is a driving course. You must get the ball in the right place on this tree-lined course to make a good score. Once done, the greens offer little resistance. The greens are good condition year-round. The fairways in winter and early spring are playable but not ideal. In summer they are in fine shape.
Each hole presents a different problem to solve, such as the first, a short par 4. Trees and bunkering suggest you play your tee shot to the left, but the green slopes sharply away from an approach hit from this angle. The third is a medium par 4 that doglegs to the left. If you drive straight, you'll have a 5-iron into the green. It's a drive and a wedge if you can hit over 80-foot trees about 175 yards away. The green on the fourth hole is guarded on the left by a hill, and sits in a narrow space between the bottom of the hill on the left and overgrown vegetation on the right. Only center-right drives give you a chance to hit on.
The signature holes are on the back nine. The thirteenth hole is a 463-yard par five, but a three-shotter nonetheless. The tee shot would be played about 180 yards to the top of a hill that angles left and leads to a wide, deep ravine. To fly the ravine from the tee requires a carry of about 280 yards over mature Douglas fir trees. The second shot plays to a plateau about 100 yards in front of the green, as the fairway dips sharply down and is about 20 feet below the level of the green at a distance where a short pitch would normally be hit. Once on, the flat green is easy to putt, but it is large. Sixty- and seventy-foot putts are not out of the question.
The seventeenth hole is a 169-yard par 3, all carry over an arm of Crystal Springs lake. The green is not tilted in any way, making it hard to see from the tee and giving the appearance of there being little place to land the ball. In actuality, the green is quite deep and is easier to hit that it appears to be.
The USGA held the U.S. Amateur Public Links tournament here in 1991, but the course is short, 6,529 yards from the tips with no room for expansion, and there have been no return visits.
Eastmoreland is one of Portland's chestnuts. There is a tranquility to the grounds that makes the four hours you spend here a relaxing time of it, which is one thing recreational golf is all about.